Seth Price at Reena Spaulings Fine Art | Review by Jill Conner
The nuts and bolts of art history and criticism relies upon the proper use of titles with dates. Without correct attribution, a work of art could theoretically be miscontextualized or even misplaced within the span of time. Fashions and fads would be offset as they rely on this apparatus to be relevant. Although each gallery and museum has its own title-and-date specialist to catch and correct the mistakes of writers, Seth Price has portrayed this institutional practice as an obsession of satire laced with irony.
About a dozen poster-sized paintings hang along the gallery walls and depict a combination of 1980s-styled graphics, old advertisements and American paintings of the pre-Modern era with various calendar templates. Price's ironic representation of a painting from the early 20th-century not only occurs as an appropriation, but it is accompanied with full attribution, while starkly offset by the horizontal and vertical lines that piece together a month like October, for instance, with the year 2004. The artist confirms that we are now dated but in deeply layered way.
In this mixture of images that occurs annually during the larger process of calendar production, images are confused within time and separated from the time in which they were created. Calendars, as such, eventually stand to replace the historical moment with a new one while attempting to shift the sense of nostalgia into reality. Although the historical context reverts to the present, it remains a subjective one by providing meaning to whoever is looking at that particular image during a certain month, day and year.
Unlike On Kawara, Price does not approach the obsessive use of dates as an act of Zen. Instead he does what the rest of us resist and gives in to the dominant past, one that continues to frame the moment in which we live. This suggests that the present has no particular image to impart, providing little to no context for itself except within a series of individual experiences. In addition to this collection of dated paintings, Price extends his pun on the historical moment in two polysterene masks that seem to portray someone who is currently unknown but who might eventually be monumental to our times.